Can Print Be The Next Vinyl?
from the it-would-take-work dept
One of the more interesting trends in the music world is the “return” of the vinyl LP. While sales of CD’s continue to fall in the face of digital downloads, vinyl LP sales continue to rise:
Consumers purchased 1.88 million new vinyl LPs in 2008, an 89 percent increase over 2007 and the highest sales volume recorded in the 17-year history of Nielsen SoundScan. Further, in good news for some physical retailers, two out of three vinyls LPs were purchased at independent record stores.
There are a number of reasons for this, but the most obvious is that the LP is a tangible object that can’t be easily reproduced and can only be shared through a physical, real-world exchange. For true fans, the LP is a sort of badge of fandom, proof of just how much you love the band. Compared to a digital download or a CD, the LP is a crafted thing, complete with large-scale artwork and often other inserts.
While it isn’t likely that LP sales will eclipse digital downloads anytime soon, it is also highly unlikely that the LP market will be undercut by piracy.
Could these same factors be a forecaster for the future of printed books and newspapers? It is hard to imagine that these items, so easily digitized, will be able to maintain their current position on top of the mountain and we are already seeing the rapid decline of the newspaper business.
In the cases of both newspapers and books, it might be that their only hope in surviving over the long-term is to invest in elements that can truly not be pirated. As Dave Eggers points out in a recent Salon interview:
I think newspapers shouldn’t try to compete directly with the Web, and should do what they can do better, which may be long-form journalism and using photos and art, and making connections with large-form graphics and really enhancing the tactile experience of paper. You know, including a full-color comic section, for example, which of course was standard in newspapers years ago, when you’d have a full broadsheet Winsor McCay comic. So we’ll have a big, full-color comic section, and we’re also trying to emphasize what younger readers are looking for, what directly appeals to them.
Now, I am not saying that comics section will save newspapers, but the point is to make the object something desirable to possess in physical form.
For the moment, we are going to see traditional publishers fight futilely to maintain the status quo but the ground is quickly falling away beneath them and it is going to take some innovative thinking about the value of printed matter to keep them in the game.
Crossposted from My Media Musings